The strips of black tape peeking out from the uniforms of Celtics stars Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen look more decorative than medical. But if you haven't been introduced to Kinesio tape before, get used to seeing it around professional sports.
"I actually have it on my back," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "I don't know what the hell it does, but it makes me feel better. It's not just the tape, they put it on certain muscles. Maybe it's mental. Just like this [magnetic bracelet] here. A lot of teams are doing it. I know Kevin loves it; J.R. [Giddens] does it."
Kinesio, also known as elastic therapeutic tape, was invented by a Japanese chiropractor. The tape is typically made from cotton strips with an acrylic adhesive. When applied, it is supposed to simulate the quality of human skin.
The tape gained mainstream attention at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Summer Games, where American beach volleyball standout Kerri Walsh wore it on her right shoulder while competing after rotator cuff surgery.
Some wondered if Walsh was covering up a tattoo or adding some sort of flare to the typically bland volleyball uniforms. Turns out she was utilizing some of the 50,000 rolls of tape donated by Kinesio USA.
The tape also received national attention during the 2009 NCAA tournament when UConn's Hasheem Thabeet wore it on his left shoulder.
The tape is gaining support from the medical community, including the Celtics' training staff.
"[Head trainer] Eddie [Lacerte] would say it's not [mental], and Eddie's not a voodoo guy," said Rivers. "Eddie had to take a class for it this summer. Half the trainers in the league took the same class. It's amazing what it does."
But, as Rivers is fond of noting, "Doc" is just his nickname. Don't ask him to explain the tape or how it works.
"It stretches the -- I don't know what the hell it does," Rivers said with a smile. "I just use it because my back has been hurting."